All the event news you need for the week ahead


Event restrictions have eased further in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

For event planners, keeping up with the latest changes in restrictions and border rules can be a challenge, as the COVID-19 situation continues to change daily.

To help you stay up-to-date and get you prepared for the week ahead, we’re rounding up the latest updates and information relevant to events professionals.

Here are the biggest stories you need to know for the week ahead:

NSW scraps limits on events

The NSW event industry is rejoicing, following the state government’s decision to remove the capacity limit on corporate events from today, 7 December.

Maximum capacity limits for corporate events in NSW are now determined by the one person per two square metres rule.

Also from today, up to 50 people can dance indoors, while hospitality venues, regional agricultural shows, weddings, funerals and retail will also move to the one person per two square metres rule.

Outdoor stadiums and theatres can increase to 100 per cent seated capacity or one person per two square metres for unstructured seating areas, while indoor stadiums and theatres can operate at 75 per cent capacity.

Gatherings in outdoor public spaces will increase to 100 people, outdoor events that are fenced, ticketed and seated (subject to the 2sqm rule) will be increased to up to 5,000 people, and other organised outdoor events, such as community sport and outdoor protests, will increase to 3,000 (subject to the 2sqm rule).

Search for NSW event venues here.

Business events community celebrates

The decision to remove the 300-person limit was welcomed by BESydney, which said the previous limits of events were “not economically viable for the majority of businesses”.

BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said it is a fantastic outcome for business events in NSW and is something the whole industry has been working towards.

“This change is a major milestone in building business confidence to commit to restarting business events again,” she said.

ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy also welcomed the news, saying it is a boost of confidence for the industry.

“The changes will move us much closer to freeing up the national market and bolster our ability to promote Sydney as a safe business events destination with confidence,” he said.

“We are awaiting the finer details of the public health order and will be documenting it with our clients to support their event execution.”

MCEC reopens

Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has reopened and is now permitted to run events at 25 per cent of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people seated.

A density limit of one person per four square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas, while free-standing events are not permitted for the time being.

MCEC chief executive Peter King welcomed the news, saying the centre will play an important role in Melbourne’s recovery.

“MCEC is more than an incredible event space; we are home to unconventional experiences that bring people together,” he said.

“We are a key agent for reactivating the city and we will be using our space in a variety of ways over the coming months in unconventional ways and we will have more to announcements soon.”

Canberra increases event capacity

On Wednesday 2 December, Canberra moved to Step 4 of its Recovery Plan with a further lifting of restrictions.

Venues that make use of the Check In CBR app can now to have one person per two square metres of usable space in each indoor and outdoor space, with a maximum of 500 people for each space.

Food can now be consumed standing up both indoor and outdoors, while alcohol consumption inside remains seated.

Meanwhile, The Royal Theatre at the National Convention Centre Canberra is now accepting event bookings for up to 1,500 people on a ticketed basis.

One of the largest spaces in Canberra, the theatre is ideal for events that require tiered seating, such as staff kick off meetings, town halls, presentations or performances.

Exhibition Hall can also take up to 1,000 people and a COVID-Safe Event Plan is required for all events.

Outgoing MEA boss calls for a united peak body

Before stepping down as CEO of Meetings & Events Australia in November, Robyn Johnson penned a final column for Spice Magazine calling for a united peak body.

“It has frequently been suggested that some of these overlapping industry bodies should merge. In the past I have not supported this proposition. COVID-19 has changed my opinion,” she said.

“If there was ever a time when the industry needed to come together and sing with one voice it is now.”

Johnson went on to say, if the current event industry bodies looked past their individual differences they could create a “stronger and more resourced peak body that has a far more powerful voice”.

“Consolidation would also minimise the overall cost to the members of these organisations…There could also be one major annual conference positioned to be the flagship event for the combined sectors rather than the myriad smaller events that fragment the industry. When you consider the pros and cons, I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

Read the full opinion piece here.

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